Trying Your Hand at Check-Row Planting?
As can be seen in this illustration of how to lay out check wire, the wire couldn’t be pulled absolutely taut but had enough slack left to allow it to follow the planter when close to the end of the row.
To lay out wire, drive the planter to the edge of the field in position to drive across the field where the first two rows are to be planted.
Take the end of the wire from the reel, hook on an anchor stake and set the stake to the rear of the planter in line with the check head nearest the edge of the field.
Adjust the reel tension just enough to straighten the kinks as the wire is being unwound. Drive straight across the field so that wheel marks can be used as a guide on the return trip when planting the first two rows.
Drive to the far end of the field, uncouple the wire or remove the wire reel (leaving enough to reach the edge) and turn the planter into position for planting the first two rows. Hook the wire on another anchor stake and set the stake at the field edge behind the exact center of the planter.
Lower the row marker on the side toward the field, place the check wire through the fork and pulleys and close the pulley holder. Lower the openers to the desired depth and drive to the opposite end of the field, using wheel marks as a guide.
When the check head is about four buttons from the end of the row, release the wire, raise the planter and marker, and turn into position for starting the next row.
Pull the anchor stake and move it directly behind the planter’s check head. Pull the wire and throw it toward the planter with an upward, circular, whipping motion, moving at least 50 buttons (I once read of a guy who claimed his father could, in his younger days, “whip” 80 rods or quarter mile of check wire). Place the wire into the fork and pulleys of the check head and close the holder. Take up any slack and set the stake at the edge of the field and directly behind the center of the planter, making sure to maintain the correct tension.
Lower the openers, as well as the marker toward the unplanted side, and drive back across the field, keeping the planter tongue directly over the furrow made by the marker on the previous trip. This procedure is repeated, back and forth, until the field is completed.
If there is an obstruction such as a tree in the middle of the field, plant to the tree, then walk to the far end of the field and pull the stake to slacken the wire. Walk back to the planter, disconnect the wire, pull the two ends to the opposite side of the tree and rejoin the wire. Walk back to the end of the field, reset the stake (in the same hole) and adjust the tension. Drive the team around the tree, put the wire back into the trip forks and resume planting.
Most planters can take up the wire on the reel as the last rows are planted. After all the checked rows have been planted, and the wire is taken up, the planter is set for drilling, and four rows, two each way, are planted across each headland to finish up the field. FC
For more about check-row planting, read “Check-Row Planting: By the Book.”
Sam Moore grew up on a farm in western Pennsylvania. He now lives in Salem, Ohio, and collects antique tractors, implements and related items. Contact Sam by e-mail at email@example.com.